A North-East man was jailed for four years today for the neglect of his wife before her hospital death.

Kenneth Hood, 57, waited a fortnight before calling a doctor to his wheelchair bound wife Irene, 55, who had suffered a broken leg and ribs.

The jury at Teesside Crown Court heard how wheelchair-bound Mrs Hood, who suffered from osteoporosis, was taken to Middlesbrough General Hospital on April 4 last year suffering from several fractures and severe bed sores.

Paul Worsley, prosecuting, told the court how Mrs Hood, whose left leg had been amputated some years earlier, had made a statement to the police claiming that her husband had twisted her right leg and had punched her on the breast and stomach.

But before her death from pneumonia ten days later she retracted the statement, the court was told. Mr Hood, who admitted both he and his wife were heavy drinkers, claimed that two weeks before his wife was taken to hospital she had accused him of watering down her vodka.

Mr Hood said as she lunged for the bottle, her wheelchair began to topple and as he jumped up to prevent her falling his leg got caught and he, his wife and the chair crashed to the floor.

Home Office pathologist Dr Hugh Sunter told the jury that the fractures were the result of violence and that she would have been in extreme pain.

Hood, of The Garth, Coulby Newham, near Middlesbrough, denied murder and pleaded not guilty to two alternative charges of manslaughter, one alleging he caused her death by an assault and the other of causing her death by gross neglect.

After a ten day trial he was found not guilty of murder and manslaughter by assault. But he was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence.

David Howker QC defending, said: "The verdict of this jury unequivocally absolves him of any responsibility for the cause of the fractures. "He falls to be sentenced for failing his wife in getting her medical attention at a time when she needed it."

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Peter Fox QC said that the particular type of manslaughter was unique.

Mrs Hood weighed five stone and suffered from brittle bone disease. The couple married in 1999. They met when Hood was the next door neighbour of her and her husband Hugh Wood in Kilmarnock, Scotland. He moved in with her after her husband died.